Archives For John Wooden

One of John Wooden’s biggest influences in his life was his dad, Joshua Wooden.

In his books (see the end of the post for a list of books), John Wooden explains how his dad gave him and his brothers simple rules to live by organized into what he called “Two Sets of Threes.” The first set was about honesty:

Never lie.
Never cheat.
Never steal.

The second set dealt with adversity:

Don’t whine.
Don’t complain.
Don’t make excuses.

Then, when John Wooden graduated from elementary school, his dad gave him a $2 bill and a card. On one side of the card was this poem by Reverend Henry Van Dyke:

Four things a man must learn to do
If he would make his life more true:
To think without confusion clearly,
To love his fellow-man sincerely,
To act from honest motives purely,
To trust in God and Heaven securely.

On the other side of the card, Joshua Wooden wrote “Seven Things to Do:”

1. Be true to yourself.
2. Help others.
3. Make each day your masterpiece.
4. Drink deeply from good books, especially the Bible.
5. Make friendship a fine art.
6. Build a shelter against a rainy day.
7. Pray for guidance and count and give thanks for your blessings every day.

Imagine if parents (myself included) taught these guidelines to their kids!

If you’re not familiar with John Wooden, I would like to encourage you to check out the following books (although they are all good, the first one is probably my favorite):

Wooden on Leadership

Wooden – a short little book.

The Essential Wooden

My Personal Best : Life Lessons from an All-American Journey

They Call Me Coach

All Affiliate Links

The other day I had some time to kill so I went into the local bookstore (a dangerous place for me). I was in the business section and spotted Wooden on Leadership*, picked it up and started reading.

I like his definition of success:

“Success is peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to become the best of which you are capable.”

John Wooden believes that the true measure of success comes when we simply do the best that we can do, no matter what the outcome and that our ONLY competition should be with ourselves. In other words, you can consider yourself a success even if you lose the game as long as you gave it your best shot. That’s pretty remarkable to hear coming from a successful basketball coach.

I have never thought about it that way. To me, winning is everything—or at least it was until I started reading Coach Wooden’s book. Now, I’m starting to look at things differently.

Of course the scary part about Coach Wooden’s definition is that we have to be the ones who determine whether or not we gave our best. How do you know what’s your best? I think if we’re honest with ourselves, we could nearly always do a little better or try a little harder. In other words, it’s probably much harder to give our best than we think it is.

I want to close this post out with a quote of what Coach Wooden told his UCLA team when they were about to play for the National Championship:

“When it’s over, I want your heads up. And there’s only one way your heads can be up—that’s to give it your best out there, everything you have.”

It’s no wonder he is considered one the best basketball coaches of all time.

* Affiliate Link

OT: You Gotta Read This!

October 30, 2008

My brother sent me a link to this piece written to the great-grandson of John Wooden (if you don’t know who John Wooden is, shame on you!). This little snippet really got to me:

I believe your great-grandfather was spared so he could be an example of how to live morally and simply and well.

For instance, he and your late great-grandmother, Nell, had the truest love I’ve ever seen. Junior high school sweethearts, they were married 53 years until Nell died in 1985. To this day, he writes her a love note every month and sets it on her side of the bed. He has never kissed anyone else.

I have nothing else to say…